Wednesday, May 03, 2006
by Tom Gilroy:
While virtually every other country in the Western world recognizes May 1st to be 'the International Day of The Worker,' we here in America studiously ignore it as anything other than just another day. That's training for ya.
Sure, the occasional rabid pundit like confessed drug addict Rush Limbaugh or classified info leaker Robert Novak might reach deep into their propaganda bag of tricks to remind us that May Day was officially ordained 'Law Day' by that friend of the working man, President Ronald Reagan, but in general the media does it's best to placate its owners and not give the uppity working man his due.You remember Ronald Reagan, who's first official act as president (if you don't count negotiating with the Iranian government to keep their American hostages until after he defeated Carter), was breaking the strike of air traffic controllers, the first salvo in an assault on worker's rights that follows a direct line through NAFTA to our current abominations of pension theft and the elimination of minimum wage in New Orleans? A real man of the people.
It was under Reagan that the whole religious 'Great Awakening' began, which wasn't so much an embracing of religion as it was a repudiation of the social advances of the 60's, with Donald Wildmon peddling his pre-Focus on Family 'Promise Keepers,' (where men rule the household), Phyllis Schafly screaming equal rights for women undermines 'family values,' and Charles Schaar Murray declaring--with a straight face--blacks do worse in America simply because they're stupid. It was an awakening, all right.
Suddenly, the 'ostracized' religious right were 'rejoining' the national debate under the 'revolution' of faith---spearheaded by a president who rarely set foot in a church during his reign, lied regularly and outrageously to the public, and illegally funded nun-killing death-squads in Central America.
Or so the story goes, if you listen to Karl Rove, Robert Novak, Peggy Noonan and the other shit-spinners who learned their chops at the feet of Reagan/Bush PR wunderkind Lee Atwater, a vicious mudslinging thug who died young of a brain tumor and renounced his scurrilous tactics on his deathbed---tactics that have made Karl Rove a household name.
What the Reagan years really ushered in was the start of 'The Great Hypocrisy,' the GOP's twisting of religion to create a class of disgruntled zealots so blinded by hate they'd rush to vote into office the very thieves, liars and torturers who would not only screw them at every turn, but would decades later deliver George W. Bush to our doorstep with his Faith Based Everything.
And 'the national debate'---where is it? There is no debate, just ideologues screaming at each other to see whose one-dimensional faith-based sound byte can 'win'--nonsense like 'God Hates Fags' and Rick Santorum's equating homosexuality with bestiality.
It used to be that Christians were known to all by their good deeds, but after almost four decades of the GOP's cleaving the populace into warring sects to be manipulated at the polls, 'being Christian' is no longer defined by doing good deeds, it's defined by an arrogant mission to tell others how they must live---who they can marry, who they can adopt, what they can say in public, what they must teach in schools---all the way down to what kind of medicine they should have access to.
It was easy to look away from inconvenient historical facts of Christianity like the Inquisition, the Crusades, or the pedophilia of the priesthood when you could still see true people of faith marching for civil rights, working in soup kitchens, or bearing witness in Nicaragua as the Reagan-funded militias gunned down families of peasants.
But 'The Great Awakening' now brings us faith-based leaders promoting torture and war, who lie to us on a daily basis, and violate our constitutionally guaranteed rights. The 'national debate' about values is reduced to quippy bumper stickers like 'It's Okay To Pray' or 'One Man + One Woman = Marriage.' Our national conversation on ethics, morality, and faith has become a kind of WWF 'Religious Smackdown.'
The Great Awakening has also brought us, as reported in the Boston Globe (http://www.boston.com/news/nation/washington/articles/2006/04/30/bush_challenges_hundreds_of_laws/) , a president who claims the authority to disobey over 750 of our laws.
Maybe it's time to ask ourselves what exactly has really been awakened.
Is it a coincidence that our most pro-faith president is also our biggest law-breaking president, presiding over our most scandalized administration in history? You tell me.
Is it coincidence that our pro-faith vice president has a gay daughter he'd prevent from adopting a child or marrying her lover, a great Christian whose wife converts from writing lesbian romance novels to ethics primers for kids in the blink of a presidential campaign, a soldier of Christ who tells a senator on the Senate floor to go fuck himself? You tell me.
We have two million people incarcerated in federal prisons. If we're to believe the polls the Pat Robertsons and Bill O'Reillys constantly throw at us that 89% of our country are practicing Christians, that means our federal prisons are stuffed to the breaking point with about 1.8 million Bible-thumpers. Hmmm.
How come when we talk about religion in the great national debate, it's never fact s like these we discuss, instead of arguing over posting the Ten Commandments in City Hall?
What about Lynddie England, described as rarely leaving her barracks in Iraq except to go to church--and of course torture naked Iraqis by forcing them to simulate anal sex for snapshots taken by the father of her illegitimate child. If that 89% is correct, wouldn't that mean that the majority of Lynddie's co-torturers were, you know, Christians? When are we having that faith-based discussion?
And poor Clay Aiken, touting his Christianity to the blind, er, I mean, fans of American Idol, finally outed and humiliated to be caught in a gay relationship and seeking the love that dare not speak it's name on the Web, all the while recording an album of ---you guessed it---Christian songs. His fans are so mad they want to sue RCA for false advertising. Why aren't we hearing any talk about the gullibility of a Christian audience in our national debate? Why is this kind of intelligent discussion avoided in favor of finger pointing and sneering? Aiken's claim of devout Christianity gave him the power to fool--or at least encourage denial in--millions. Shouldn't we look at that?
And what about the Duke Lacrosse team? The entire debate is whether or not a rape occurred, not what were a room full of Christian boys from 'good homes' (two of them educated by Jesuits) doing ordering strippers to entertain them while threatening sodomy with a broomstick and taunting black women with racist jibes about their cotton-picking slave grandparents? Why don't we discuss Christianity in that context?
And of course there's Tom Delay, the great born-again purveyor of moral rectitude, the man with his hand in so many tills even Texas republicans had to cut him loose. The President salutes him as a great patriot who 'served his country well' and the Rove-minions repeat ad nauseum, 'the Dems don't have their poster-boy for corruption to kick around anymore.' What does that mean, exactly? Did he do it, or not? If he's innocent, then how could he possible be a poster-boy for corruption? And if he's guilty, why is the president saluting his patriotism? And if he's a thief and a liar, what are we to think of his relentless touting of Christian values? Doesn't that mean he's a hypocrite, and that Christian values, in a political sense, are meaningless?
What all this tells us is claiming to be Christian, on it's own, signifies nothing. In fact, given the religious makeup of our populace, pedophiles, thieves, liars, hypocrites and torturers in America are more likely to be Christians than Jews, Buddhists, Muslims--or atheists. It's simple math.
This is why the Founding Fathers--Christians all--were smart enough to keep religion out of government. They knew the power appealing to a people's spirituality could have, that faith could be invoked while hiding great violations of it's very tenets, encouraging otherwise docile people to do and say despicable things, to hate each other, to threaten the very fabric of a progressive, democratic, rational society.
Ironically, what Bush, Rove and the rest of the Fourth Reich have shown us is that putting more religion into government doesn't make it more moral; what it does is allow every cut-rate thief, liar and hypocrite to hide behind the cloak of morality while committing immoral acts around the globe and at home that would shame any real person of faith.
It's not a coincidence that the most 'faith-based' government we've had in over a century is also the most corrupt, secretive, murderous, lying, and law breaking in history. In the name of 'reawakening' Christianity in government, Bush, et al, have shown us why it should be locked out. As soon as a politician starts quoting the Bible and going on about his faith, we should run him out of town.
What the GOP has in fact done is mock and destroy Christianity, and that's a shame. Like Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, and Hinduism, Christianity and God are some of our greatest creations. By appealing to an ignorant fringe of assholes who codify their hatred behind a misuse of spirituality, the GOP is an embarrassment to not only truly devout Christians, but to the rational world at large.
But they've done us an odd--if unintentional---service by showing us in practice exactly what the Founding Fathers feared and tried to prevent; that religion strikes so deep and renders people who want to be 'good' so gullible to manipulation, that any absurdity can be pushed through, including nonsense like dinosaurs walked the earth only two thousand years ago, praying can stop cancer, and somebody else's marriage can threaten your own.
So if you're against abortion, don't have one. If you're against gay marriage, don't marry one. And if you're against illegal immigrants, don't hire one. Clean your own damn house and pick your own damn broccoli, and when you're unmarried daughter breaks her pledge and gets pregnant, face your own moral dilemma and search your own spirituality for answers--just don't force me to apply those answers to my daughter. I'll handle her, and my grandchild, on my own.
But if you want me to see the beauty and the power of your faith, lead by example, not by cramming it down my throat or voting for politicians who want to screw all of us so the rich can get richer. Christian values are feeding the hungry, helping the poor and aiding the sick---not cutting Medicare, veteran's benefits, environmental protections, school lunch programs or health care. Period.
Values are something you adhere to, not something you force someone else to adhere to; that's called fascism.
And don't stand there and tell me a smiling president who reserves the right to violate a Congressional ban on torture is a man of faith.
That's called stupidity.